Individuals involved in auto accidents or slip and fall injuries sometimes forgo medical attention in regards to vertebral fractures. While it’s true that some fractures don’t require treatment, this doesn’t mean fracture monitoring by an Orthopedic Spine Specialist isn’t necessary. The following are some of the consequences of leaving a vertebral fracture untreated:

Vertebral Deformity

The anatomical structure and alignment of the vertebrae are critical to function. Because the vertebrae align to form the vertebral canal and protect the spinal cord, a vertebral deformity can cause serious problems over time. A fractured vertebra needs to be diagnosed via X-ray, CT, or MRI. If the fracture causes malalignment of the spine, it’s important to immobilize with a brace, or correct the deformity to prevent long term problems. 

Illustration 1– The vertebra(e) and vertebral canal

Nerve Damage

Serious vertebral fractures can protrude into the spinal canal and pinch the spinal cord. Or, when they occur near any of the small foramina, they can pinch the spinal nerves that exit the spinal canal. Nerve damage occurs if a nerve is pinched for a prolonged period of time. A host of unpleasant symptoms include:

  • Burning
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Radiating pain
  • Fatigue

Illustration 2– A vertebral fracture that pinches the spinal cord

Soft Tissue Damage

Following a fracture, the soft tissue around the bone is also damaged. Inflammation and swelling decrease a few days after if the fracture is treated properly. When the fracture isn’t treated properly, permanent soft tissue damage can occur. Chronic pain that is difficult to treat may occur.

Surgery for Vertebral Fractures

Delaying treatment of a fractured vertebra can lead to pain and dysfunction that can only be relieved by surgical intervention. In most cases, when a vertebral fracture is treated appropriately, surgical intervention isn’t necessary. Therefore, it’s recommended that individuals who’ve sustained a fracture contact an orthopedic specialist as soon as possible.

Contacting an Orthopedic Spine Specialist

Orthopedic Spine Specialists have the training, skills, and experience to accurately diagnose and effectively treat vertebral fractures. If you or someone you know has sustained one, please feel free to contact our offices.

The spine specialists at New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery treat conditions of the cervical and lumbar spine using both non-surgical and surgical modalities.  New Jersey Spinal Medicine and Surgery is led by Dr. Dante Implicito and Dr. John Koerner and has offices in Glen Rock and Maywood, NJ. Both physicians have extensive training and experience in the utilization of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery techniques as well as non-surgical techniques.

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